Flux through, and maximal activities of, key enzymes of phenylalanine and tyrosine degradation were measured in liver cells prepared from adrenalectomized rats and from streptozotocin-diabetic rats. Adrenalectomy decreased the phenylalanine hydroxylase flux/activity ratio; this was restored by steroid treatment in vivo. Changes in the phosphorylation state of the hydroxylase may mediate these effects; there was no significant change in the maximal activity of the hydroxylase. Tyrosine metabolism was enhanced by adrenalectomy; this was not related to any change in maximal activity of the aminotransferase. Steroid treatment increased the maximal activity of the aminotransferase. Both acute (3 days) and chronic (10 days) diabetes were associated with increased metabolism of phenylalanine; insulin treatment in vivo did not reverse these changes. Although elevated hydroxylase protein concentration was a major factor, changes in the enzyme phosphorylation state may contribute to differences in phenylalanine degradation in the acute and chronic diabetic states. Tyrosine metabolism, increased by diabetes, was partially restored to normal by insulin treatment in vivo. These changes can, to a large extent, be interpreted in terms of changes in the maximal activity of the aminotransferase.

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